Review: Roche Limit #2

Space, as we are reminded in the opening pages of Roche Limit #2, is a pretty big place. Clearly, based on the sheer longevity of science fiction, there’s a lot going on in it. Of course, that’s one of the biggest pitfalls in stories told against the backdrop of the cosmos: there’s so much to explore and to see; so many stories to tell. And while I really enjoyed the way writer Michael Moreci began his far-flung, yet noir-ish tale about a remote human outpost built around a strange space anomaly, which is being fed a steady diet of young women for as-yet unknown reasons, I get the feeling that in its second issue, its own space has been unfortunately compromised by expositional clutter.

The story continues to follow drug dealer-cum-P.I. Alex Ford and his new charge, Sonya, as they look for the latter’s sister (and apparently, the former’s lover) after she mysteriously disappeared from the colony. Along the way, they rub elbows (and sometimes fists) with Roche Limit’s underbelly element, including the occularly-challenged, hard-ass madame, Gracie, and more specifically this time, the samurai-obsessed warlord, Moscow, and his insolent underling, Dode.

Roche-Limit-#2-10.29.14Everyone wants to know what happened to Bekkah - as well as the ones whose disappearances preceded hers - and what it means, not only for the densely-populated satellite world, but about the light sack-dropping “Black Sun,” around which it orbits. The only one who seems to know anything is Dr. Watkins, a surgeon who is here revealed to be working with some kind of prune-faced, hive-minded group of worshippers that demand he gather people to send into the anomaly and study the catatonic effects it bestows upon them. It’s a faith-based initiative.

In general, the story behind Roche Limit still intrigues me, particularly the whole cultish worship angle, and what that means for the quickly disappearing female population of the titular outpost. In that, Moreci is clearly setting up something epically complex, with the intent to ground it in the story’s more noir elements. That’s all gravy, but like I mentioned above, Roche Limit #2 feels like it’s trying to do too much.

Whether it’s in Moscow’s heavy, villainous proselytizing or Alex’s star-crossed origins, this is a book leaden with exposition, peppered with B and C-story tangents that are meant to develop the periphery and incorporate its many players, but only really succeed in confusing matters further. It hammers in backstories, conspiracies and character motivations by spelling them all out too loquaciously in so early an outing, and really could have used a more savage editorial hand. Perhaps its worst sin, however, is one of omission. Roche Limit #2 just isn’t very interesting.

Sure, we get hints of an evil space church, a one-armed man getting slightly roughed-up at a bar, “heart-bombs” and a scene of a dude licking blood from a sword, but it still took me two or three tries to get through this book. Yes, there’s a lot going on, and the mystery behind it all remains sound, but the story here was made bland by being far too chatty without saying much of anything.

Artistically, issue two lacked much of the polish in Roche Limit #1, and I’m not sure whether that’s thanks to artist Vic Malhorta or colorist Jordan Boyd. Either way, while it does have a well-worn overall tone, some fantastic artistic “acting” and, particularly in the scene with Moscow and the space worshippers, a nicely-haunting chisel, I found the visual presentation as a whole much more rushed and far less daring this issue. I hope that’s not a bad portent of things to come, because I really enjoyed the look of this series in its inaugural issue. Hopefully the artistic team can recapture their magic next time.

Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of this issue, I’m going to stick with Roche Limit. I think Moreci and co. have some very interesting things planned for this series, and I want to be there when it all unfurls. I’ll just chalk this one up to the creative team needing to fit the story into a trade, and hope that its pacing finds its own Roche limit soon. Otherwise, this thing is going to collapse under far too oppressive a gravity.

Score: 2/5

Writer: Michael Moreci Artist: Vic Malhorta Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 10/29/2014 Format: Print/Digital